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Dec. 31, 2008

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Pitt at Rutgers, Dec. 31, 2008


Quoting Pitt Head Coach Jamie Dixon


Opening Statement:


“We got exactly what we expected. We knew it’s a new season; everybody is at 0-0. We talked about it as a team and they (Rutgers) can get it going and they got it going. They were in a rhythm. I probably should have gone with the zone earlier. We came into the game, thinking we may have to do it (play zone). When Rutgers gets in a rhythm, they penetrate and really drive it and their three guards are all off the dribble guys. It’s something you just have to be prepared for and we talked about it beforehand and I probably should have done it a little earlier but that is a coaching mistake. It helped us out obviously (in the second half). I don’t know where to start, the bench, you could go down the list. Everyone did everything we asked going in there. I said that to the team, afterwards. All five guys gave us everything. We are very fortunate to have a lot of good players and sometimes guys don’t get to play as much as they want and that’s a good thing because they should all want to play. But, again, (it was a) great effort from our bench. Obviously, we played without our leading rebounder (DeJuan Blair) who really couldn’t play because of the foul (trouble). It’s just something that is going to happen in our conference and we’ve got to get better at that. Rutgers is a very good team and I think they are getting better. I am glad we work on the zone every day for these situations.”


On Rutgers ability to convert 62 percent of its shots in first half:


They were in a rhythm (in the first half). I don’t think anyone ever shot 62 percent for a game. They were making some tough ones. It seemed like they were driving, a bump was a foul. We didn’t seem to be able to keep them in front of us and they hit some jump shots. We never put our heads down. I felt very comfortable with where we were at. DeJuan didn’t play and I thought we would get him in the second half (more time) but we obviously didn’t. But we found ways to do.”


On the overall play of Pitt:


“I guess you have to single out Brad (Wanamaker) and what he has done. There has never been a doubt in my mind how he was going to be and how good a player he is. I think at times I have talked to him about it that I have almost hurt him at times because I was so sure he was going to be a good player and no one thought he was as good as he is. I have so much confidence in him and he wants to be so good and at times maybe I have been harder on him than I should have. He’s a great kid, great teammate and a great player. He was big (today). You can go down the list. I don’t want to leave anyone out. Our seniors were huge, leadership-wise. Levance (Fields) pointed out some great things. He did a great job coaching on the floor and recommending and pointing out things to me. It was great to see he had complete control and grasp of the game as a coach on the floor.”


Characterization of defense as a whole:


“In the second half, we were a little more patient offensively. And they stayed with us for a little bit. We eventually broke them down and Levance, there is a reason why he is tops in the country assist-to-turnover ratio for his entire career. He can find guys, he knows where they are at. It was really wear them down, grind them down in motion and then get penetration at the end and that is something we are trying to get better at. We’ve got to be prepared to do that when teams are able to guard us out.”


How much zone Pitt has played before this year:


“None. We practice it every day. I get this question at some point every year. They think it’s the first time we have played it. We practice it every day. We usually bring it out and it has been successful at times. When it came to the end, we went back to man and got it done with the man. They were in a rhythm and their drives and if we hedged we were getting fouls called on us. The drives it seemed like we were getting fouls so it really slowed things down. That’s what we really use it for. Everybody talks about our good defense, I don’t think we are going to throw out our man-to-man. I think the zone is not something we don’t live and die by. I had a feeling we were going to have to use it. This is a team that is better off the dribble and we knew that.”


Quoting Rutgers Head Coach Fred Hill


On his team’s overall performance:

“Our guys did a terrific job. I thought they went zone and it slowed us down a little in the 2nd half. We got the ball inside near the rim three times and we came away empty. Those empty possessions hurt you against the number 3 team in the country.”

On Rutgers guard play:

“Our guards did such a phenomenal job today. We like to run a lot of ball screens, and they like to hedge hard and trap off those screens. I told our guys in practice it would be a matter of how we handled that hedging and trapping; if we handled it well we would get a lot of good looks and opportunities to score. Our guards did that and that’s why we were able to knock down some shots.”

On his team’s progression:

“We’ve gotten better, that’s what we talk about. It sounds boring and cliché, but that’s what we do (focus on getting better every day). We’re building something very special. You can see it starting to develop. Our goal is to get better each and every day, we’ve been doing that, and that’s why we’ve played some pretty good basketball the last two games.”


On how he is preparing his team:

“This is a good time of the year, because there’s no school, and guys can come in the morning and shoot and work out. It’s a great time to work on your game and our guys have taken advantage of that. Each practice and each game, you want to take something positive out of it and continue to grow. We’ve done that and you can see our players starting to grow and gain some experience and confidence.”

Post-Game Quotesheet

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